(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)
[(1) cover story]
Author’s content note: My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site. I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve. I hope that you enjoy my new story.
Illustrations: I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, Betty White as Granny Wilma Wharton, and others as noted in the references.
Ch. 08 Epilogue: Wedding love and family joy
Luke and Diana share their wedding news with their immediate families and friends Sunday evening of December 26, 2010—which for Diana and Benjy, also includes their neighbor and one of Diana’s Care Receivers friends, Martha Lesley. Everyone is ecstatic and eager to help Luke and Diana fast track their wedding for not quite a full two weeks hence on a Saturday, January 7th, 2011.
So on Monday, December 27th, Diana informs the Hampton Heights apartment complex that she is tendering her resignation as a Care Giver due to her upcoming marriage and possibly returning to school to get her Master’s degree in gerontology starting in the Spring of 2011. They are understanding and grateful that Diana is actually giving them two weeks notice, when not every employee does that. They and her Care Receivers will miss Diana’s caring heart and kindness—as Diana will miss her Care Receivers.
Then later on that Monday, Luke & Heidi pick up Diana & Benjy at their apartment for the quick trip to the County Clerk’s Office for Luke and Diana to fill out their wedding license registration form. And Luke and Diana are quite amused when Benjy logically answers the Marriage License Clerk’s question for Luke and Diana, of if they were already related as a family?
Benjy: “No! That’s why my Mommy Diana and Heidi’s Daddy Luke are getting married—so that we will make a family.”
Heidi: Little Heidi adds gleefully, almost chirping. “After we’re married, I will have a new Mommy and Benjy will have a new Daddy.”
And of course, the Clerk had seen Luke’s and Diana’s marriage license registration form’s written responses of marital status, with them each being widowed. So she smiles cordially at them and their kids and wishing them every happiness and a wonderful new life together.
That evening, the soon to be new Wharton family has dinner out—at the family friendly Bob Evan’s Restaurant again—before returning Diana and Benjy back to their apartment. While the kids play with some big block wooden puzzles after dinner, Luke and Diana sit off to the side on her couch and chat a bit more about wedding planning.
Diana: “Luke, I know we have an appointment tomorrow morning with your Pastor Carl Olsen at the Lutheran Church, but I realized today in talking with Martha and several of my Care Receivers about their attending our wedding, that transporting them to a Church and possibly a separate reception site will be a challenge for them.”
Luke: “Yet, you look like you might have a solution.” Luke smiles at their ability to give and take on decisions big and small.
Diana: “Yes. Each apartment building in the complex has its own laundry and community rooms.” Diana gazes up at Luke with a hopeful expression on her face.
Luke: “And you are suggesting that we have our wedding and reception in the apartment building’s community room?” It is clear from Luke unintentionally squinting his eyes, that he isn’t keen on that idea.
Diana: “I am. The community room is quite large, with a small kitchenette at one end. So we could have light appetizers and wedding cake and punch for refreshments on one end, as well as chairs set up in rows for seating for our wedding ceremony on the other end. We could decorate it and have it look nice.”
Luke: “Before saying yea or nay, I would like to see the community room first—and you will want to also see our church option first.” Luke replies a bit dubiously. Even the label of community room conjures up in Luke’s mind a bare bones room with no ambience. “Diana, as a compromise if we decide against the community room, I’m happy to rent one of those handicap accessible Show buses for the elderly that ferry them around town, for your Care Receivers clients to be taken to and from our church and their apartment building. And our St. Paul’s Lutheran church has the sanctuary and a large reception room, handicap accessible bathrooms, the church office and such all on one level for anyone using wheel chairs or rolling walkers like Martha does.”
And the community room suggestion does end up being unsuitable in Luke’s mind—not the least of which is because when he views the room as he and Heidi leave Diana and Benjy Monday night, the room is still set up from a crafting group or something—with supplies strewn on worn tables, and very uncomfortable looking chairs, not to mention the lack of parking from Luke’s family and close friends as their other wedding guests who will be attending their small wedding.
So Luke’s idea of renting a Show bus to ferry the elderly ladies to their wedding is looking more practical. And after Diana and Luke chat with the youngish and welcoming Pastor Olsen—who is in his early forties—and he gives them a tour of the compact church building, Diana & Luke finalize their using the church sanctuary and church reception room—with a full kitchen next to it—for their wedding and reception. And they settle on a 10am Saturday, January 7th, 2011 morning wedding.
And with Luke’s sister Sharon and baby Eric moving back to their own home now that her husband Lt. Colonel Gary Poole is temporarily reassigned to the local armory, Diana and Benjy get to meet them as well—as Benjy’s soon to be Aunt, Uncle, and baby cousin, as well as Diana’s new family in-laws and baby nephew.
Settling on wedding clothes proves to be more easily accomplished than Diana had first surmised—since Luke already has a nice blue suit and they found dressy wedding clothes for their kids Heidi and Benji—but Diana was striking out on finding a dressy, yet not over the top tea length ivory or pale pink and cream dress to wear as her wedding dress.
However Granny Wilma unexpectedly and happily solves Diana’s dress problem. Wilma has her son Luke bring down from their attic Wilma’s carefully sealed wedding dress box so that she can loan Diana her veil. But Diana oohs and ahs so much over Wilma’s wedding dress of a pale peach damask bodice and front and back skirt panels with half sleeves and skirt side panels in the palest of pinks, that a hopeful Wilma lets Diana try it on. And though Wilma is short, her wedding dress was floor length on her—which makes the dress’ hem a tea length on Diana. So with many happy tears from Wilma—and without Luke’s presence to keep it secret–Diana chooses to wear Wilma’s heirloom wedding dress for her wedding to Luke. Happily Wilma’s wedding dress was cleaned before it was packed away over fifty years ago, because Diana would not want to risk the dress being damaged with possibly more harsh current dry cleaning processes. Diana will just take a steam iron to a few overly wrinkled spots.
What was a little more amusingly contentious was Luke’s fervent wish for Diana and Benjy to move into their home as soon as possible—even before Luke repaints the middle bedroom a neutral creamy yellow color—with blue accent colors on Benjy’s side of the room and pink accents on Heidi’s side of the room. And buying the kids their own twin size beds, matching furniture style dressers and small desks—Benjy and Heidi had each been sleeping on cots in their parents’ rooms before. But now that they are getting older, the kids need the bigger sized beds—and more defined spaces to reflect their own personalities. But they won’t use the box springs yet, just the mattress—so the beds aren’t too high for the kids to get into, or out of.
Diana is skeptical about living at the Wharton home early, amongst the in-progress renovations, let alone Diana feeling embarrassed about moving in with Luke before they are married. Diana had mentioned primly to Martha that she wanted her and the other ladies to know that there would be no hanky panky going on before she and Luke wed. To which Martha replies, there is nothing wrong with a little hanky panky, my Dear. And Diana blushes crimson as Martha chuckles and gives her a hug.
So Luke happily cedes his bedroom to Diana for her sole sleeping use for now, until they are married. And Benjy & Heidi want to continue to camp out on the family/living room couches until their middle bedroom is ready—and the paint fumes dissipate. So with a little cajoling, Diana acquiesces and she and Benjy move into the Wharton’s home that following weekend of Friday, December 31st, 2010—since the paint fumes are gone from the middle bedroom and the kid furniture is due to be assembled and installed that weekend by Luke for their kids clothes and toys, etc.
Diana and Luke decide to redecorate their own bedroom later, once they decide on what they want to do with color schemes and such. They are too busy now with their small wedding planning. The bedroom furniture Luke uses now was his parents set—he had put in storage in one of his heated barns, the bedroom set that he and his late wife used. So for now, Diana officially has Luke’s king sized bed to sleep in, but alone—with Luke camping out on one of the family/living room couches with the kids.
And Luke and Diana also decided to make their merging family even more fun for their kids by getting everyone in their household the same flannel pajamas designed with snow men with red hats and red sleds for each of them to wear—except, they buy Granny Wilma a night gown in the same pattern per her request.
Yet Luke and Diana also begin to share before their wedding a large but cluttered—even after Heidi’s things are removed to the middle bedroom–walk-in closet in their master bedroom. So after Luke makes room for Diana’s things in their closet, Diana vows to also do some closet organizing with built in shelves and cubbies that she can reach and over and under hanging rods for her blouses and skirts, and such.
Diana had been wondering what her contribution to their expanded Groves and Wharton family would be, and it is her keen organizational sense and love of creating a comfy and cozy home—with Diana being a little less strict about keeping everything in their home pristine as Granny Wilma does. Yet Granny Wilma, or just Wilma to Diana, has an ally in keeping their home warm and inviting.
With their kids Heidi and Benjy as the ultimate of unintentional chaperones, Luke and Diana have had little to no private time leading up to their wedding—something that chagrins each of them as a chaste but loving and soon to be wed couple.
So after their kids go to bed in their own shared middle bedroom for the first time on the Tuesday, January 3rd night before their Saturday, January 7th, 2011 wedding, Luke and Diana hope to have some private time together. But bowing to Diana’s concerns about appearances were they to use their soon to be shared master bedroom for chatting—and the temptation that being in their bedroom together might and would bring–they are chatting together in the family/living room on one of the long couches while wearing their comfy flannel pjs–and spooning with each other as Luke lies behind Diana as they watch the flickering flames in the fireplace. And the nature of the comfy, but not all that deep couch that they’re lying on means that they are lying flush against each other, with each of them feeling they are in a cocoon of love and tenderness as they embrace each other.
Then Diana slowly turns from her side and onto lying on her back, and she gazes lovingly up at Luke lying on his side next to her.
Luke: “A penny?” Then Luke sweetly kisses Diana’s lips, and she sweetly kisses him back.
Diana: “That was lovely. Are you a mind reader now, too?” Luke looks at her quizzically. Then Diana shyly explains somewhat breathily. “I wanted you to kiss me, Luke.”
Luke: “As I always want to kiss you, Diana.” Luke’s velvety deep baritone voice washes over Diana with his love for her. Then he interlaces his fingers with her fingers and brings her hand to his mouth for a kiss. “It is past midnight, Diana. And everyone is surely asleep by now.” He hints yearningly.
Diana: “We hope our kids are asleep.” She retorts with an impish grin. “Luke, it’s Benjy’s and Heidi’s first night sleeping in their new shared bedroom. It’s going to take a few nights of adjustment for them.”
Luke: “You think that that will come looking for us?” His kisses move to her cheek, and lips again, then her chin, and down the lovely creamy column of Diana’s neck.
Diana: “Don’t you? Hhhh!” Diana sighs with the lovely tingles that Luke’s kisses give her.
Luke: “Well, they took their afternoon naps in there just fine this afternoon.” Luke pouts.
Diana: “Yes, but it was daylight then, nighttime is scarier for kids—especially sleeping in a new bed and room.”
Luke: “So you want us to check on them?” He surrenders, innately knowing that she is probably right.
Diana: “Yes, thank you! I just want to make sure that Benjy and Heidi are sleeping soundly and restfully.”
Luke nods his head and he and Diana stand up from the couch. They slowly walk toward their kids shared middle bedroom. The middle bedroom door is ajar to allow Granny Wilma to hear them from her bedroom just a few feet away past their shared bathroom—should the kids need help in the night. But Granny Wilma doesn’t sleep with her hearing aids in at night. So there is a hiccup in that reasoning. And the kids each have nightlights on each of their sides of their shared bed room, so that the room doesn’t seem too dark and scary.
Yet their kids shared bed room is still very dark when Luke and Diana peek into it–but for a bit of moonlight filtering in through the drapery sheers on the single bedroom window between their twin beds. Benjy is obviously fast asleep, him lying almost diagonal on his new and larger twin sized bed. So Diana pulls the blanket over her son more and kisses his head—which doesn’t wake him in the slightest. Luke nods to Diana, almost as if to say, I told you so.” Though in all of their interactions. Luke hasn’t said anything like that out loud to her.
Then Diana hears a sound that tugs at her heart—sniffling is coming from Heidi’s bed as she faces the wall. Diana quickly pads over there and gently touches Heidi’s shoulder, not wanting to startle her. Heidi lies down on her back and Diana sees Heidi’s tears falling copiously down her cheeks.
Diana: “Oh, Heidi, sweetheart.” Diana whispers as she scoops Heidi up into her arms and rocks her back and forth to soothe her.
Then Luke steps forward and caresses his daughter Heidi’s tear stained cheeks.
Luke: “What’s wrong, Heidi, Dear?” Luke tries to take Heidi into his arms, but sometimes only a soon to be Mommy will do. And Heidi continues to cry as she cuddles closer to Diana.
So not wanting to awaken Benjy, they quietly slip out of the kids’ room with Heidi carried in Diana’s arms and Luke grabbing Heidi’s top blanket for her, to keep her warm. They go back to the family/living room and Luke stokes up the fire. Then then all sit together on one of the long couches, with Heidi still holding onto Diana.
Diana: “Heidi, Sweetheart, Won’t you tell us what’s wrong so we can make it better?” Diana instinctively kisses Heidi’s forehead, and Luke also leans in and kisses Heidi’s forehead.
Luke: “Please, Heidi. Help us to make you feel better. Did you have a scary dream?” He guesses. And Heidi nods her head.
Diana: “What was your scary dream about, Sweetie?”
Heidi tells them her dream in hiccupping cries.
Heidi: “I was Bambi and a hunter shot Mommy Diana and she died, like my other Mommy I never met.” Heidi cries some more. And Diana continues to cradle and rock Heidi in her soothing embrace. She looks over at Luke, because this afternoon they had let the kids watch the first part of the movie Bambi, forgetting about some of its more troubling plot elements.
Diana: “I’m right here, Heidi Sweetheart! I’m fine. Nobody has shot me, and nobody will shoot me.
Luke: “That’s right! We don’t allow anyone to shoot guns on our property—not in the crop fields nor the woodland area. How could the filmmakers get away with making an animated film for children with such a mature and scary plot is outrageous!”
Diana: “Yes Luke Dear, but that’s getting off topic and won’t help Heidi now.” Diana whispers. “I’m going to make Heidi some warm milk while you rock her in the rocking chair.” Diana hints broadly at what she wants him to do. “Then I’ll be right back, Heidi.” Diana kisses Heidi’s forehead and releases her hold on Heidi.
Luke nods, then reaches for Heidi again—who goes to him. Luke sits down in the rocking chair and begins to sing The Coventry Carol lullaby to Heidi, like he did when she was a baby and since then. And Heidi begins to calm down, though she still keeps looking toward the entrance to their family/living room, looking for Diana to come back to her.
Diana returns with two small mugs of warm milk, and two frosted Christmas cookies on a plate—with Benjy carrying the plate of cookies. When Diana went to the kitchen, she first checked on Benjy who woke up to go potty, then he joined her in the kitchen.
And the warm milk and cookies do help Heidi feel sleepy after her Daddy Luke soothed her in the rocking chair as he sang her a lullaby.
So that night Diana and Luke invite the children to sleep with them in their master bedroom bed—with the kids in the middle, and Heidi tucked into her soon to be Mommy Diana’s side. Luke and Diana gaze lovingly and tenderly at each other over the heads of their children, and then fall asleep, while holding hands over the four pillow tops.
Luke and Diana’s wedding day shines brightly and they each look wonderful [(2ab) above]. And Luke is especially surprised and sentimental to see Diana wearing what he knows is his Mom Wilma’s heirloom wedding dress from the wedding picture on her nightstand with she and his father on their wedding day. Wilma smiles through her proud and touched sniffling tears.
Heidi loves twirling around in her new pale pink velvet flower girl dress—but not twirling up the church aisle before her soon to be Mommy Diana. Heidi saves the dress twirling for the reception. And Benjy with his ring bearer responsibilities does a good job of not dropping the pillow with their wedding rings tied securely on it. And witnessing Luke’s and Diana’s heartfelt marriage vows and joining in their small church reception are their close friends and family.
And Luke and Diana begin their marriage with abundant wedding love and family joy. They continue to develop their easy going give and take as husband and wife and as co-parents. Luke agreeably acquiesces to having them take a delayed family honeymoon with the kids and Granny Wilma in the late Spring—after the crops are planted–when the kids can enjoy being outside. Luke and Diana both sense that their leaving the kids on their wedding day would be too upsetting for the kids to be separated from their parents so soon after being married and becoming a new family—especially given Heidi’s nightmare earlier in the week.
But Luke does manage to pry Diana away from their kids Benjy and Heidi—and they from her—the weekend after they are married, with a parents only and very loving two days and nights at a local hotel, while Aunt Sharon and Uncle Gary, with baby Eric, help Granny Wilma watch over Heidi and Benjy. Granny Wilma is a tiny tornado, but slowing down at her advanced 82 years old. And everyone adores her, and doesn’t want her to over do it. And Benjy discovers about his new four month old baby cousin Eric, that in addition to drinking milk and stinking up his diapers, baby Eric coughs up spit quite spectacularly. So Benjy gives baby Eric a wide berth. However, Heidi is enthralled with her baby cousin, and enjoyed when the baby lived with her Daddy Luke, Granny Wilma, and herself for several months.
And Diana decides to use the first half of the year of 2011 to look into graduate programs in gerontology while staying home as a temporary full-time mom, tending to their new family—with Luke spelling her with Daddy duty so she can visit her friends and former Care Receivers like Martha, visit the local university about her planned graduate coursework, and such.
So after Luke and Diana discuss their shared future plans at length–and then their finding out in March 2011 that Diana is expecting their first child together–Luke and Diana decide that waiting 6 months or more for Diana to go full time to graduate school will be a very good thing–until after the baby is born some time near next Christmas and after Heidi’s and Benjy’s all day Kindergarten school year is over, that starts in Fall 2011. Diana will take some online courses part-time before the baby is born, then plan to be a full time graduate student after that—with Luke proudly on diaper duty.
And just before Heidi and Benjy start all day kindergarten in Fall 2011, Luke and Diana adopt each other’s child—with Benjy becoming Benjamin Groves Wharton with Luke as his Daddy, still honoring Benjy’s birth father Ben Groves in his last name and honoring his new father Luke Wharton, too. And Heidi also asked to have a new name, too, with her getting her new Mommy Diana! So Heidi—which was her birth mother Melanie’s middle name—and with her Daddy Luke’s guidance, chooses to put Diana’s name as her new middle name, styling herself as Heidi Diana Wharton.
So they are one big happy family with love and joy in their hearts, glad and grateful for the magic & mistletoe of Christmas last year that brought them all together as a family.
Dear Readers & Friends,
Thank you in joining me on my Christmas 2020 journey of love, romance, and family, with my new original short story “Of Magic & Mistletoe”! I’m glad that you enjoyed it!
I had fun writing the chapters each day over my holiday break week! But I will return to a less hectic writing and posting schedule in the new year–after I decide which of my many in-progress stories that I will share with you next.
Wishing every happiness to you and yours as we head into the new year of 2021 with hope!
Hugs & Holiday Cheers! Gratiana “Grati” Lovelace
December 31, 2020
References for Ch. 08 Epilogue “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 31, 2020
by Gratiana Lovelace
1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:
a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg
b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI
c) A textured red background that I/Grati created.
2) Composite wedding couple image (edit via Grati) of Diana Groves and Luke Wharton is comprised of:
a) Diana Groves in her simply sweet heirloom wedding dress is of Erin Krakow from When Calls the Heart, via TV Fanatic found at: https://www.tvfanatic.com/gallery/elizabeth-walks-down-the-aisle-when-calls-the-heart-s7e6/ , downloaded Dec31-2020via Grati; and the
b) Luke Wharton wedding image is of Richard Armitage in his 2014 DaMan Magazine interview and photo shoot wearing a double breasted blue suit, downloaded Feb06-2016via SaraObsessed;
The link for Ch. 08 Epilogue on my Wattpad site, will be found at: